Science Minister launches first ever Higher Apprenticeship in Space Engineering
15 Mar 2013



The Science Minister David Willetts launched the first ever Higher Apprenticeship in Space Engineering at STFCs Rutherford Appleton Laboratory today.  The apprenticeship has been developed by Loughborough College in association with the National Space Aca



Science Minister meeting Mat Beardsley, RAL Space Precision Development Facility Manager
(Credit: STFC)

The Science Minister David Willetts launched the first ever Higher Apprenticeship in Space Engineering at STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) today (15 March 2013). The apprenticeship has been developed by Loughborough College in association with the National Space Academy. Students from Loughborough College and current apprentices from RAL were at the launch and had a chance to speak to the Minister.  The party were also shown the RAL Space Precision Development Facility and were given a tour of STFC’s ISIS facility. 

The Minister said: “The UK space industry is a major success story. To build on this achievement we need to maintain a good supply of talented scientists and engineers. This new Higher Apprenticeship is the first of its kind. It will provide people with the advanced skills and knowledge to drive growth and innovation in the space sector, keeping Britain ahead in the global race."

The pioneering programme is set to lead the way in training across the country for a sector due to triple in size and be worth £30 billion in less than two decades.

Developed by Loughborough College in association with the National Space Academy, the apprenticeship will meet the demands of an industry which already employs around 30,000 and contributes over £9 billion to the nation’s economy, with work-based, top quality degree-level training.  

Science Minister David Willetts meeting Apprentices in RAL Space Precision Development Facility
(Credit: STFC)

Dr David Parker, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, added: “Space is big business for the UK and can offer our young people interesting and fruitful careers. Programmes like the Higher Apprenticeship in Space Engineering will help us to nurture the next generation of scientists and engineers, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to boost both our growing space sector and the whole economy.” 

Dr Martin Killeen, Head of Engineering at Loughborough College, said; “Delivered through partnerships between education providers including Loughborough College, the National Space Academy and the University of Leicester and the space industry companies employing the trainees, the programme will target locations across England where demand is greatest.

“The aim is to provide a national pathway for 250 Higher Apprentices by 2015. The two-year framework includes a 12 week delivery of the Foundation Degree each year with workplace training for the remainder of the time.”

The space sector has a huge impact on everyday life, showing significant growth despite the economic downturn. The commercial sector is driven by increasing demand from consumers for satellite TV and radio, mobile phone services, GPS navigation and from government for emergency services and security, for air traffic management or to monitor climate change. This is predicted to lead to continued high growth – projected at 5% per annum in real terms to 2030.

The Government recently pledged an extra £60 million to the UK Space Agency for Europe’s space programme, bringing the UK’s total investment in the European Space Agency to an average of £240 million per year over the next five years. This will allow the UK to play a leading role in the next phase of European space collaboration and has secured the future of the ESA facility in Oxfordshire, including transferring ESA’s telecoms satellite headquarters to the UK and creating over 100 new high-tech jobs.

To find out more visit: http:// from 15 March 2013
For media enquiries contact Elizabeth Udall, Loughborough College 07515 852690 or

Notes for Editors 

Loughborough College launched the country’s first ever 16+ vocational course in Space Engineering in September 2012, in association with the National Space Academy. It combines Maths and Physics A levels with a BTEC in Engineering, all taught in a space context – with Maths and Engineering delivered at the College and Physics at the Space Academy and backing from the UK and European Space agencies as well as industry. Students also have the chance of work experience in the UK space industry and to work with established space scientists. 

The National Space Academy programme of student masterclasses, teacher CPD and careers events is delivered by a network of outstanding teachers and project scientists that use the context of space to teach physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, geography and applied science to GCSE, A-level and BTEC students and their teachers.

Its purpose is to materially enhance the size and quality of the UK science and engineering skills pool. Government, Industry and Academia have all expressed concern about student progression on to both academic and vocational pathways in STEM areas and the impact this will have on future economic growth and prosperity.

A three year pilot Space Academy programme has proved successful in boosting student attainment, teacher effectiveness and influencing course choices at A-level. The National Space Academy will extend its reach throughout England from 2011 and the UK from 2015. Led by the National Space Centre, the programme is funded by the UK Space Agency, ESA (European Space Agency), STFC (Science and Technology Facilities Council) and industrial/academic partners from the UK Space Sector.  Information about National Space Academy funding bodies can be found here.

The Space Academy is supported by the UK Space Agency, the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the UK Space Education Office (ESERO-UK), and the European Space Agency.  



For more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries